What is an SSL Certificate? Purpose, Benefits & Use Cases of SSL Certificates

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What is SSL Certificate

Your private information remains secure while it moves over global cyberspace because of SSL, the cornerstone of our secure Internet. Even if your website does not handle sensitive data, such as information about credit cards, SSL is still necessary for security. It offers crucial protection, confidentiality, and data accuracy for your websites and users’ private information.

We’ll look at SSL certificates’ uses, advantages, and purposes in this article.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is a secure digital certificate that allows an encrypted connection and verifies the legitimacy of a website. The security protocol referred to as Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL establishes an encrypted connection between a web server and a web browser.

To prevent fraudulent online transactions and maintain the privacy and security of client information, businesses and organizations must install SSL certificates on their websites.

Websites that want to utilize HTTPS (a more secure protocol than HTTP) use SSL certificates. A data file stored on a website’s origin server is called an SSL certificate. The site’s public key, identity, and other relevant data are contained in SSL certificates, enabling SSL/TLS encryption.

Recommended: Differences Between HTTP and HTTPS Explained

SSL protects internet connections and stops thieves from accessing or changing data sent between two computers. The website you see is safe because of SSL, as shown by the secure padlock symbol in the address bar next to the URL.

The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol has undergone many iterations since its introduction around 25 years ago, all of which had security issues at some time.

There was a redesign and name change, leading to the creation of TLS (Transport Layer Security), which is still used today. But the initials SSL stayed, and that’s why the updated protocol is still frequently referred to by its previous designation.

How do SSL Certificates Work?

Developing a reliable environment that encourages customers to make transactions represents one of the most crucial aspects of running an online business.

By providing a secure connection, SSL certificates lay the groundwork for an underpinning of security and trust. Browsers offer unique visual signals to visitors to reassure them that their connection to the Internet is protected.

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SSL ensures that information sent across people and sites or between two different systems can be intercepted. Encrypting data as it’s being transmitted keeps hackers from accessing it while it moves over the network.

Identities, addresses, debit and credit card numbers, and other financial information are the susceptible facts in this data. Data is encrypted during transmission to prevent attackers from accessing it as it travels across the network.

Here’s how the procedure works:

  • A browser or server has attempted to access an SSL-secured website or web server.
  • The web server is required to identify itself by the browser or the server.
  • The web server responds by sending the browser or server a copy of its SSL certificate.
  • The browser or server verifies the SSL certificate. If so, the web server receives a signal for this.
  • After that, the web server issues a digitally signed acknowledgment to initiate an SSL-encrypted session.
  • Data encryption is sent between the web browser & the web server.

Occasionally, this procedure is called an “SSL handshake.” It happens in milliseconds despite sounding like a drawn-out procedure.

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A website that is SSL certificate-protected will have HTTPS, or HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, in its URL. 

If an SSL certificate does not exist, HTTP will be the only character that appears in place of the S for security. There will also be a padlock icon in the URL address box. This reassures visitors to the website and eases their minds.

The details are included in a single data file for SSL certificates:

  • The domain name for which the certificate was awarded.
  • To whom it was issued—a person, group, or device.
  • Which organization (CA) provided the certificate?
  • A digital signature from the certificate authority
  • Related subdomains.
  • Date of certificate issuance.
  • The certificate’s expiration date
  • is the public key; the private key is kept under wraps.

Why Does Your Website Need SSL?

SSL certificates are necessary for websites to protect user data, validate website ownership, stop hackers from building fraudulent versions of the site, and inspire user confidence.

Moreover, when most people think about encryption, they imagine the padlock on websites that use HTTPS instead of HTTP. However, HTTPS is more than just a padlock.

The padlock that shows up on websites that utilize HTTPS instead of HTTP is often what people picture when they think about encryption. All that HTTPS is, though, is more than a padlock.

It’s the term for the security mechanism that keeps interceptors from reading the content of your messages. The certificates needed to secure HTTPS connections are referred to as SSL certificates.

SSL certificates offer an additional layer of security and confidentiality for online browsing. Data is protected while it is in transmission between your computer and the website you are viewing due to HTTPS, which increases the probability of data interception and manipulation.

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To protect all incoming online traffic, you can generate an encryption certificate on a machine you have administrative authority over. For a website you are presently working on or to provide extra protection if you are using shared hosting, you may also generate a digital certificate.

Google has decided to identify websites that don’t have the most recent version of the padlock icon in the address bar. The world’s most widely used internet browsers, including Google Chrome and Firefox, will penalize users who do not follow this standard by displaying a warning message labeled “Not Secure” in the web page’s address bar.

To ensure the privacy of financial transactions and the confidentiality of client and business data, each e-commerce business operating on a web server must have an SSL certificate installed.

An SSL certificate facilitates data security, such as – Credentials for login and information on bank accounts or credit card transactions. Details could be used to identify a person, including their complete name, address, birth date, phone number, Contracts and legal documentation, Documents for medicine, and confidential data.

Different Types of SSL Certificates and Their Prices

SSL certificates come in various forms and with various levels of validation. The following are the six fundamental types:

  • Domain Validated certificate – DV SSL
  • Organization Validated certificate – OV SSL
  • Extended Validation certificate – EV SSL
  • Wildcard SSL certificates
  • Multi-Domain SSL certificates – MDC
  • Multi-Domain Wildcard SSL

Domain Validated Certificate (DV SSL)

Domain-validated certificates, often known as Thumbprint certificates, confirm a domain’s identity. This certificate may only be used for one domain name; it cannot be used for multiple domains.

Only your active domain name should be used with this certificate. You are advised to generate distinct certificates for every domain name you are attempting to protect. You will need to generate distinct signing identities if you create separate certificates.

Name of CertificateCost
Certera SSL$3.99/year
Comodo PositiveSSL$5.49/year
Sectigo Positive SSL$5.49/year
Comodo EssentialSSL Certificate$9.99/year
Comodo Instant SSL$21.99/year

Organization Validated Certificate (OV SSL)

The website owner must complete a significant validation procedure to receive an SSL certificate. Therefore, this certificate version has an assurance level comparable to the EV SSL certificate.

For further security against rogue websites, this kind of certificate also shows the information about the website owner in the address bar. Encrypting sensitive customer data during transactions is the primary function of OV SSL certificates, often the second most costly (after EV SSLs).

To guarantee the privacy of any shared customer information, commercial or publicly accessible websites need to install an OV SSL certificate.

Name of CertificateCost
Comodo Instant SSL$21.99/year
Comodo Instant SSL Pro$23.99/year
Comodo Premium SSL$38.99/year
Sectigo OV SSL $39.99/year

Extended Validation Certificate (EV SSL)

This kind of SSL certificate has the highest rating and costs the most. Use of it is limited mainly to well-known websites that take online payments and acquire data. When this SSL certificate is installed, the padlock, HTTPS, business name, and company name will appear in the browser address bar.

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An address bar with the website owner’s details helps differentiate legitimate websites from fraudulent ones. Before installing an EV SSL certificate, the owner of the website must go through a normal identity verification process to confirm that they are authorized by law to have the exclusive rights to the domain.

Name of CertificateCost
Comodo PositiveSSL EV$59.99/year
Sectigo Positive EV SSL$59.99/year
COMODO EV SSL$69.99/year
SECTIGO EV SSL$89.99/year

Multi-Domain SSL Certificates – MDC/SAN

With multi-domain SSL certificates, companies may secure numerous domain names with a single certificate. A single domain and one or more subdomains, or a single domain and all its subdomains, can be secured with a single certificate.

A blend of entirely distinct domains and subdomains with various TLDs (Top-Level Domains), except internal and local ones, is included in this—for instance, sample.com, sample.org, www.secure.sample.org, etc. Sub-domains are not enabled in Multi-Domain certificates by default.

Name of CertificateCost
Certera Multi Domain SSL Certificate$10.99/Yr
Comodo Multi Domain SSL Wildcard (FLEX)$12.99/yr.
Sectigo Multi Domain SSL Wildcard (FLEX)$12.99/yr.
Comodo Positive Multi-Domain SSL$14.99/yr.
Certera Multi Domain Wildcard SSL$40.99/yr

Wildcard SSL Certificates

With a single wildcard SSL certificate, you may protect an unlimited number of sub-domains besides the base domain. Compared to buying multiple SSL certificates for every sub-domain you need to protect, getting a Cheap Wildcard SSL certificate is far less expensive.

Recommended: What is a Wildcard SSL Certificate? [Guide]

The typical name of wildcard SSL certificates includes an asterisk *, which stands for all legitimate subdomains that share the same base domain. For instance, the following may be secured using a single Wildcard certificate for *.domainname.com, mail.domainname.com, anything.domainname.com, etc.

This is a cost comparison for Wildcard SSL certificates.

Name of CertificateCost
Certera Wildcard SSL$39.99/Yr
Comodo PositiveSSL Wildcard$38.99/yr.
Sectigo Positive SSL Wildcard$38.99/yr.
Comodo EssentialSSL Wildcard$49.99/yr.
Comodo AMT Wildcard SSL$70.00/yr.

Advantages of an SSL Certificate

Improving the Security of Data

Strengthening data security is one of the main advantages of website SSL certificates. They encrypt connections between the browser and server and secure the data while it is being transmitted because of cryptography. Because of the high and complicated degree of data encryption, the attacker cannot decode and comprehend the total amount of data even in the event of a data breach.

Identity Verification and Affirmation

The transmission of data over the Internet increases the likelihood of it ending up in the hands of hackers or other unauthorized parties. The fact that SSL validates and confirms the parties’ identities is still another essential benefit.

SSL certificates with Extended Validation (EV) and Organizational Validity (OV) do a comprehensive background check on the website’s owner and validate the user’s identity. It guarantees that data access is restricted to authorized users exclusively using the public and private critical systems.

Protection Against Google Warnings:

Google has fulfilled its commitment to making the Internet safer for users by identifying and penalizing unencrypted websites (HTTP sites) with its authorization advancements. Google began to issue more security alerts for websites that are not entirely HTTPS encrypted as of October 17, 2018, when Chrome 70 was released.

Boost Client Confidence

The existence of HTTPS, the address bar padlock, and other indicators point to a website whose connections are secured by an SSL certificate. This helps reassure the consumer that they are interacting with a natural person and that giving sensitive information to the website is secure. However, the user will lose faith in the website and leave immediately if a warning notice appears across the entire page or in the address bar.

Wrap up!

No matter how large the website is, users always demand a secure and risk-free surfing experience. An SSL certificate enhances the website’s credibility by guaranteeing the security of important data transferred between the web server and the browser.

Apart from offering a further layer of protection against malevolent intent, SSL is crucial for enhancing the website’s search engine rankings. Secure websites are more likely to rank higher in search engine results.

But stopping hackers from intercepting private information requires more than just an SSL certificate. To better protect your website and its users, more security steps are still required.

Before choosing the SSL for your website, assess your budget, brand, validation, and any other features you may need.

Cheap Wildcard SSL Certificates CTA

FAQ’s

What is an SSL Certificate?

Online communication security is provided by just a little piece of code on your web server called an SSL certificate. The SSL certificate creates an encrypted connection when a web browser visits your secured website. It’s like mailing a letter sealed in an envelope.

Because every SSL certificate has identifying information, it also fosters confidence. When you apply for an SSL certificate, a third party (like Certera) verifies your organization’s details, which then uses that information to provide you with a unique certificate.

How does an SSL Certificate Work?

An SSL/TLS certificate enables computers to use the Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) protocol to authenticate a user and create an encrypted network connection with another system.

Are SSL Certificates Purchased or Free?

Website owners and developers can access premium SSL certificates issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs) and free SSL certificate providers. Free SSL certificates are just that—free—and website owners are allowed to use them as much as they like.

Does an SSL Certificate have to be offered?

Nowadays, SSL certificates are necessary for any website. The browsers, led by Google and Mozilla, have made it mandatory for all websites to be delivered over HTTPS, which encrypts data. To facilitate this shift, browsers have developed new security notifications.

Does an SSL Certificate have an Expiration Date?

Like a driver’s license or passport, an SSL certificate has a time limit of 1 to 5 years. The identification of the server is only reliable after the expiration date.

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta

Janki Mehta is a Cyber-Security Enthusiast who constantly updates herself with new advancements in the Web/Cyber Security niche. Along with theoretical knowledge, she also implements her practical expertise in day-to-day tasks and helps others to protect themselves from threats.